News digest: AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, Indian strain confirmed in Slovakia

Sputnik V to be put to use soon. President Čaputová will turn to the Constitutional Court with questions on snap election referendum.

Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský (r) said that the roll-out of AstraZeneca will be restored. (Source: TASR)

This is your overview of news from Slovakia on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. Learn about politics, business, and other notable events of the day in Slovakia in less than five minutes. This is a free-of-charge service for our readers. If you want to support us, become a subscriber and get access to more detailed news and interesting feature stories from Slovakia. Thank you.

AstraZeneca stopped, Sputnik V soon to be launched

People who were invited to make a vaccination appointment and were supposed to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine will be administered the vaccine by Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna instead.

At the same time, it is now possible to administer the two vaccines to people aged 35+. The changes come shortly after the Health Ministry decided to suspend the vaccination with AstraZeneca. Minister Vladimír Lengvarský (OĽaNO nominee) explained the main reason for this was the lacking stock. Still, he stressed that it will be administered again as soon as there are enough vaccines in stores.

Meanwhile, he has promised to soon make it possible to pick a preferred vaccine. This includes non-registered vaccines, particularly Sputnik V, which was delivered to Slovakia in early March.

The roll-out of the Russian vaccine can start in June since Russia has officially signed approval for its use in Slovakia, Lengvarský has confirmed.

The announcement came only one day after the Denník N daily reported on a request from the Russian Fund for Direct Investment to withdraw or correct its earlier story containing the assessment of the Russian vaccine by the Slovak medicines authority, the State Institute for Drug Control, threatening with a lawsuit if it fails to do so. The daily has rejected the request.

Slovakia suspends the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. What does it mean? (Q&A) Read more 

National emergency may end soon

It is still unclear when the national emergency, and the related restrictions like the curfew and the ban on assembly, will end. Officially, it is set to expire on May 28, but if the parliament refuses to support the cabinet’s decision to prolong it, it could end as early as next Tuesday, May 18.

Investments Minister Veronika Remišová, who also serves as the chair of the junior coalition party Za Ľudí, suggested that all the cabinet needs to do is adopt the law on economic mobility that would enable the adoption of certain restrictions that are now bound to the national emergency when only a state of emergency is declared.

This may happen later this week since the cabinet greenlighted the proposal to discuss the draft law in a fast-track proceeding.

Meanwhile, the situation in Slovakia keeps improving, and there will be as many as four districts in the orange tier of the Covid automat from next Monday, May 17. Another 50 districts will be in the light red tier, 23 in the red tier, and two in the dark red tier. The country will no longer follow the national Covid automat alert system, only the regional one.</p><p>Despite the differing epidemiological situation throughout Slovakia, all schools are set to open across the country next Monday, Education Minister Branislav Gröhling (SaS) announced.

National emergency continues, but all schools will open next week Read more 

More Covid and vaccination news

  • 404 out of 6,776 PCR tests carried out on May 11 were positive (5.96 percent), and of 60,948 antigen tests, 302 were positive (0.50 percent). 19 more people died of Covid, increasing the total number to 12,099.
  • The Indian coronavirus variant has been confirmed in Slovakia. The infected person, who lives in Bratislava Region, came from India and is now in home isolation, chief hygienist Ján Mikas said.
  • 66 percent of people aged 70-79 years have been vaccinated with the first Covid vaccine shot, while the share in the 80-89 age group is 54 percent. Out of the total population, 23 percent have received the first jab so far.
  • The Health Ministry has published a map of districts with the share of residents vaccinated with the first Covid vaccine shot. The highest share is in Bratislava, and the districts of Banská Bystrica, Prešov, Zvolen, Dunajská Streda and Humenné.
  • People travelling from Slovakia to Cyprus will not have to enter quarantine after May 13. They will have to show negative PCR test no older than 72 hours before the flight and then take another test after their arrival.

Court will deal with the referendum

The question of whether a referendum can be held on the shortening of an election term in Slovakia will be answered by the Constitutional Court.

President Zuzana Čaputová has decided to turn to the court just over a week after receiving a petition signed by more than 585,000 people calling for the referendum.

Although the petition fulfilled the first requirement, which states that the referendum should be announced if supported by more than 350,000 citizens, there are several questions concerning its content. Not even experts and lawyers can provide a definite answer of what the constitutional bodies should do and how the result should be assessed, the president explained.

“The president’s task is to make a decision that will secure the constitutionality of the referendum and that will not be accompanied with any constitutional doubts,” she stressed.

The Constitutional Court will have 60 days to decide and if it finds no conflict with the Constitution, the president will announce the referendum as soon as possible so that it can be held in September.

President turns to the Constitutional Court with referendum on snap election Read more 

Picture of the day

olice officers witnessed a curious, yet dangerous, case near the town of Trnava, when a car was spotted transporting a wrecked car on its roof. The driver of what has been labelled the “Trnava Doubledecker” was fined and could even lose his driving licence.

In other news

  • Former special prosecutor Dušan Kováčik, who faces charges related to corruption and other crimes, will stay in custody, the Specialised Criminal Court Judge Pamela Záleská decided. He was detained on October 22, 2020.
  • Finance Minister Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) left for the USA, where he is to meet with the representatives of the U.S. Steel company in Pittsburgh. He hopes to make the Slovak plant “both an economic and ecologic leader of the east,” he wrote on Facebook.
  • The state will pay €333 per child to families in material need. This should concern some 45,000 children, according to Labour Minister Milan Krajniak (Sme Rodina).
  • The National Criminal Agency (NAKA) may soon be left without top officials. After Branislav Zurian announced his resignation on May 11, his deputy Patrik Jurík also said he would leave. (Sme)
  • Carmaker Volkswagen Slovakia will fully restore its operation in the Bratislava-based plant on May 17. Recently, it was forced to suspend the production of SUV models due to the lack of semiconductor components.
  • Mobile phone provider Orange has launched the 5G network in Bratislava’s borough of Petržalka and some parts of Banská Bystrica. To use it, a special data package is required. (Techbox)
  • PM Eduard Heger (OĽaNO) and Health Minister Lengvarský visited the University Hospital in Bratislava on the occasion of International Nurses Day, which falls on May 12.

More on

The Istanbul Convention for a better future for all Read more 

Lifted measures impact the labour market Read more 

Slovak National Theatre closes its historical building Read more 

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